The social exchange and instrumental perspectives on employees' response to job insecurity

Yui Tim, Edward WONG, Chi Sum WONG, Hang Yue NGO, Hon Kwong LUI

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


Job insecurity has become an important topic for western organizations in the past decade due to uncertain economic conditions, global competition and the advancement of information technology. According to the perspective of social exchange theory, job insecurity may have negative impact on organizational citizenship behaviors but this detrimental effect will be buffered by trust in organization. We propose that employees response to job insecurity may also be affected by the consequences of their responses. We label this as the instrumental perspective. In this study, we carefully chose a joint venture and a SOE sample in China to test these two perspectives. In the joint venture sample, we hypothesized that the social exchange perspective would be applicable because increasing organizational citizenship behaviors in response to job insecurity would have little impact on positive consequences. On contrary, employees of the SOE may reduce their chance of being laid-off or able to bargain for better after lay-off arrangements by improving their performance and organizational citizenship behaviors. Thus, the instrumental perspective would be more appropriate. Data from 295 and 253 supervisor-subordinate dyads were collected in the joint venture and the SOE, respectively. Results supported our hypotheses. Implications are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalWeb Journal of Chinese Management Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2003


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